By TRAVIS HANDY
After nearly four decades of service to the Town of Pulaski, Town Manager John Hawley announced plans to retire from his position. The Southwest Times received the information shortly after noon Wednesday, Feb. 6, following a Feb. 5 meeting of Pulaski Town Council.
In a Jan. 29 letter addressed to Mayor Jeff Worrell, Hawley stated, “It is hard to believe that I am at a point in my career that it is time to look at retirement. After working for the Town over 38 years, it is hard to imagine the Town not being part of my life. It is with an extreme range of emotions that I write this letter. At this time it is my desire to announce my intention to retire next year at the end of my current contract with the Town. This will allow the Council to facilitate an orderly transition to the next Town Manager.
“It has been a privilege to work with so many great Town employees over the years and also to have served my community for almost four decades. I look forward to moving to the next phase of my life.”
A native of Draper, Hawley is a 1974 graduate of Virginia Tech, where he received a B.S. in Civil Engineering.
Hawley’s employment with the town began in October 1979, starting out as town engineer, a post he held over 22 years. Following his tenure as town engineer, he has served Pulaski as town manager over 11 years. His current contract was renewed for two additional years in the summer of 2012.
Over the years he has worn a number of hats. Hawley served a short time as an intern in the engineering department and also took a turn as interim town manager. He has also been a vocal supporter of many organizations in the town, specifically drawing interests as recently as Tuesday night to efforts to revive the downtown merchants’ association, the Greater Pulaski Alliance (GPA).
Mayor Worrell praised Hawley’s service to Pulaski and his knowledge of the town itself.
“I’ve worked with John for almost 15 years as an elected official,” said Worrell. “As a technician with AEP, I’ve known him professionally for over 30 years and you could not ask for a more loyal or dedicated employee.”
Worrell said Hawley’s “encyclopedic knowledge of the town’s infrastructure from all his years as town engineer is just legendary. He could tell you anything about what’s in the Town of Pulaski.”
“(Mr. Hawley) has tremendous support from his employees, and that’s one of the things I’ve always admired about him,” said Worrell.
In over 10 years as town manager, Hawley has had the same department heads working for him virtually the entire time.
“I work in a lot of (other) towns and counties and you just don’t see that,” said Worrell. “That speaks to the loyalty of his employees, I think.”
Other town employees expressed their sentiments through comments or posts on social media sites after news of Hawley’s retirement broke online Wednesday.
As a testament to Hawley’s many achievements, John White, director of economic development for the town, said his “long tenure as Town Manager is a tribute to his skill, ability to manage conflicts in a positive manner, and to guide the Town through an enormous period of economic transition from a traditional manufacturing economy to advanced manufacturing and the next wave of high tech.”
White pointed out Hawley’s “enormous commitment to housing, strong management through tornadoes, floods, ice storms, and blizzards. He managed the rebuilding of the historic Depot, and his commitment to the Dora Trail and ‘The Ratcliffe’ (Memorial Museum) will lay a foundation for an emerging tourism economy.”
Although he has made an official announcement of his retirement, Hawley shows no sign of stopping until the time comes. His contract will end in April 2014.